The Samuel D. Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice | GSE | Rutgers

New Report by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute Explores the Future of HBCUs through Partnership Development!

Contact: Brandy Jones
Telephone: 848-932-0788

New Brunswick, N.J., March 23, 2021— The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice (Proctor Institute) is proud to announce the second report of our three-part “Year of Leadership” Series. Co-sponsored by brightspot strategy, this second report entitled, “Presidents and their Strategies to Build Partnerships at HBCUs,” was developed by Zachary C. Brown of Purdue University, Janelle L. Williams of Rutgers University, and Levon T. Esters of Purdue University. They emphasize the importance of successful partnerships between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other institutions, industries, and community partners. 

According to the report, HBCUs have been historically disadvantaged when compared to their Predominantly White Institution (PWI) counterparts. State and federal governments disproportionately support and provide funding to PWIs as compared to HBCUs. 

“HBCUs are sometimes required to find external support to ensure success for their students and improvement of their campus resources,” says Zachary Brown, Assistant Director for Student Recruitment and Retention and Ph.D. student at Purdue University. “We want all HBCUs to have the opportunity to thrive and remain sustainable; this report offers recommendations for HBCUs and how they can do that through strategic partnerships.”

To fight these disparities, HBCUs turn to external partnerships for funding support and other resources required for sustainability and growth. The data compiled in the report comes from interviews with HBCU presidents who have established successful, external partnerships. The presidents include: President Roslyn Clark Artis of Benedict College, President Aaron Walton of Cheyney University, President Rick Gallot of Grambling State University, President Michael Sorrell of Paul Quinn College, and President Makola Abdullah of Virginia State University. 

“This report highlights the idea that forward-thinking leaders and collaborations are critical to developing innovative support that is not only beneficial to HBCUs today, but also the next generation of HBCU students in the future,” says report author Janelle L. Williams.  Report author Levon T. Esters notes that this new report "has the potential to serve as a roadmap for other HBCU presidents to follow as they look to develop innovative institutional, industry, and community partnerships." 

Findings conclude that while some of these partnerships and leadership practices are distinct to particular institutions, commonalities are present as well. These include prioritizing student and community needs. Each university president discussed diverse criteria when choosing partners, but they all kept institutional and student success in mind as they engage partners.  

“It is important for presidents of HBCUs to share their success and strategies,” noted Marybeth Gasman, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair, Distinguished Professor, and the Executive Director for the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions. “HBCUs should leverage strategic partnerships in order to move towards sustainability and ensure the next generation of HBCU students are equipped to navigate the future.”

Authors conclude by providing policy, practice, and research recommendations for how to attain the most successful partnerships. Findings from this study support the need for presidents to be “proactive and identify opportunities for business and industry partnerships.” 

The report can be accessed here.

About the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice 
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice (Proctor Institute) is a national center that focuses on issues of leadership, equity, and justice within the context of higher education. It brings together researchers, practitioners and community members to work toward the common goals of diversifying leadership, enhancing equity, and fostering justice for all. The Proctor Institute is located at Rutgers University—New Brunswick, in the Graduate School of Education and houses the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). Learn more at

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
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